For millennia, many Native American traditions have used white sage to make smudge sticks for use in sacred rites of purification. For more prosaic reasons, Matt and I keep one in our house at all times and occasionally we light it to clear the air. Here is our somewhat bedraggled-looking smudge stick that I bought at an art fair a few summers ago.
I like to burn the smudge stick when we first move into a house or after we cook fish, for example, or just when I feel the house needs to be refreshed energy-wise. I light the end and the blow out the flame and fan the smoke around the rooms.
Sage is the common name for the Salvia plant, a genus of plants in the mint family. I have some growing in my back patio and in our community garden. Different species of sage are used for medicinal purposes, as health supplements (chia seed), in perfume oils, cooking, and as incense. Among its many uses, I recently learned that you can burn sage to repel mosquitoes.
Using both sage and rosemary, I made a few smudge sticks over the weekend.
I gathered several branches of the same length together in a bunch. Then, I laid a piece of thread down the length of the branches, and started winding the thread back up the bunch at an angle. When I reached the top, I wound the thread back down in the other direct in an opposite angle, to create a criss-cross of thread.
I left a piece of thread extra long on the end and tied a knot with the original end. I made a loop with the remaining thread so I could hang the sticks to dry. You don’t burn the smudge sticks until the herbs are completely dry.
I hung them from our wine rack. My neighbors are going to take one stick with them on their camping trip to help repel mosquitos in their campsite. Once you burn a little bit of the stick, you can extinguish the flame and then use the smudge stick again at a later time.
Keep an eye out for sage around the neighborhood. Other nice herbs to include in a smudge stick are lavender, sweet grass, and hibiscus flowers. You can use many other plants, like cedar, each with different spiritual and healing properties.